Since Jeff Mack is visiting our school, I planned a cross-grade level project for welcome signs. My plan was that the first grade level (3rd grade) would draw ups some plans for a sign, the second grade level (4th) would put the plans to paper, and the third grade level (5th) would finish up. That would leave me one last class to get the library ready for assemblies.
First two classes were fairly smooth sailing. Signs are planned and moving along. Third class comes in, however, and the first thing several of them say is I don’t want to do this. Great, I smell a mutiny underfoot. I do understand this artsy stuff isn’t necessarily your thing, but I really need your help! We are running out of time, I was out for three days last week, then we had two field days. Please! Just pick up a marker, paper, scissors and give it a try. Do something in that corner or with those letters or that one needs a frog or the fly is too small. And then I walked away. (Did I mention this was a class of 5th grade boys?)
So they hemmed and they hawed, some walked around the table and examined the project from every possible angle, but eventually everyone worked. And they worked until the very end of class. Then I got a surprise when some asked if they could come back after their lunch. Not only did they come back and work, they worked with the 2nd graders until they had to leave.
I started stations with 3rd, 4th & 5th on Tuesday. *Whew*
The first day, We did four stations – everyone started one, and then 1/3 of the class checked out for 10 minutes each. There had to be some overlap because we were crunched for time. So as soon as students from a previous group went, I let the next group start. This meant the students had 15-20 minutes to work on a station which for some was just too long. I wasn’t unhappy with the day, but I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And we didn’t have good time for reflection.
So, on Wednesday, I nixed half the stations. I had two groups working on the same thing at the same time. We still only got 10 minutes for check out, but there wasn’t any overlap and I could be pulled in fewer directions. If the finished check out before the 10 minutes was up (and a lot of them do), then they went back to their tables and read silently until the timer went off as we always have done. 10 minutes is short, but after we get past the learning stage, I’m sure this can gradually increase to 15 minutes. We only have a 40 minute class. That would leave 5 minutes at the front for necessities and 5 minutes at the end for reflection.
Every day, I was fine tuning what we’d done the day before. On Friday afternoon a parent helper came in and she mentioned that the 4th graders really seemed to be into the work and the process.
These are the things that still need my attention.
Some students do not like to read directions even when you tell them they are right there and need to be read to accomplish the goal.
I put an “I can” statement on each activity (asked them to read it with the instructions) and still some students couldn’t tell you any reason why they did the activity.
Some classes were great with the time. Others just would not come back. Of course this varied from class to class before, but it seems more important now so that we can reflect.
Today was the professional meeting for Library Media Coordinators for WSFCS. Mixed emotions on these. I’d always rather be at my school – this week is a tough one regardless of how ready I’ve ever felt walking into it. To many things to do! However, it’s valuable to meet with others in the same job listening and talking with them about what we have in common and how our schools are different and the things we do.
I got lots of ideas from today. Some I’d already been thinking on and some were new. I’d been planning on doing stations this year, but I heard some other ways librarians are using stations with students. We talked about different ways to do literacy, maker spaces, gaming, data uses. We had a gal from MackinVia come to speak with us. I haven’t been able to log into that, but based on what we saw today, I think it could be great! We talked about county things that are not so exciting but that are good to know like evaluations.
Tomorrow, I have to hit the library thinking about Thursday’s open house. I need signs and signups for volunteers and the book fair. I need to find out about a drawing I’d like to have. I’ve got some ideas for signs.
And not to change the subject to abruptly, but did you know Dot Day is coming up?
Guess who the largest employer is in most counties in NC? The school system.
It is the largest employer in 64 counties.
It is the second largest employer in 12 other counties.
There is only one (yes one) county in the state in which the school system is not in the top three employers.
If you think of a raise as an economic stimulus, more money in the pay checks of 95,000 teachers (spread out from Manteo to Murphy) will mean more middle-class people buying groceries, going on vacations, etc. And that will have a real, immediate economic impact on the state as a whole.
We keep getting news of an “Average” 7% pay raise for teachers. Not knowing how many teachers are at each step, I can’t do that math easily to know if that statement is true. What I do know is that when you look at the word “Average” over 36 steps, a ton of room is left for maneuvering and posturing.
Everyone has access to our state pay scales which is why little images like this one can be made.
The “raise” looks much better than last year’s salaries, but look at the numbers compared to 2008-09. Not a lot of progress, but a little. Oh, and Masters National Boards will no longer be figured off of Master’s pay, but off of Schedule A. That’s about a $500 difference a year.
Now, let’s throw in the longevity. NC has an entire document dedicated to longevity. Year 17 teachers would make 2.25% in longevity. It has been a separate payment as a bonus. The last line of the document clearly states “Longevity pay is not a part of annual base pay for, nor is it to be recorded in personnel records as a part of annual base salary.” For teachers, the proposal is to roll it into their monthly salary – which also means it’s no longer longevity, but shared by all. This is only for teachers, however. Even principals will continue to get their typical longevity.
Based on this information, a year 17 teacher (with longevity) is still making less than they would have in 2008-09.
All this was possible because of the nearly frozen salary. I’ve said it before and I want to reiterate that I understand the economy has been pitiful. I know teachers are not the only ones with frozen salaries. I know decisions had to be made. I want my congress woman and senator to at least acknowledge they heard what I had to say when I write. (Debra Conrad and Earlene Parmon in my case. While I copied the letter into a blog, I sent it to both of them.) What I want is for our politicians to be honest with us. I want to have an honest discussion about tenure. (Which is no longer given in NC if you didn’t have it before 2012-13 school year, and you lose it if you change counties.) Don’t try to make things seem better than they are through fuzzy rhetoric and posturing and expect us not to look for the facts behind the verbiage. Oh, and take care of those older teachers financially! We need new teachers. We need their vitality and their excitement We need the older ones too. We need their wisdom and experience. I understand that I’m a public servant, but I’m thinking that maybe NCGA doesn’t get that they are too.
Today, my goal is to complete the MS for this math book, then let it sit until Monday for another round of editing. I’d also love to finish with my vehicles and get the BB paper cleaned up out of the guest room! I can do mess for a short period, but there comes a point that it wears on my nerves.
Cheryl Ristow posted a video this morning of a teacher decorating his room. It is not all practical, but I do love his enthusiasm. I have done some impractical things in my room (even knowing they were impractical) because I loved the way they looked and HOPE really does spring eternal donchano. I didn’t do themes in my classrooms – well, I did, but the theme was Math. 😉 I’m doing my second one in the library now and I love how the theme can tie things together. I love the filming theme he uses. Got to add that to my Pinterest board!
Barb Kibler shared a Buzzfeed Link – 35 Money Saving DYIs for the Classroom from 2013. I realize this kind of teacher craftiness is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve tried many of these things. I cannot tell you how many stacking boxes and cans (metal and plastic) I’ve repurposed over the years. Sometimes what I ended up making was NOT less expensive because of covering it (or, yes, even the mistakes I made), but I just couldn’t find something to fit a purpose. I would recommend finding boxes from a source other than the Post Office. Those are clearly marked that they are for USPS use only. But once you start collecting boxes, they multiply quickly.
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